Are Critical Incident Response Programs (CIRP) as they relate to law enforcement personnel an affective means when treating fellow coworkers who have been exposed to traumatic events?
The main significance of this section of the study is to provide an analysis of the expansive theoretical framework on CRIPs. As acknowledged by Nanavaty (2015) and expounded further by Harpold and Feemster (2007), there is an increased need of an efficient mechanism (program) that can put into consideration the psychological torture police officers go through while in the line of duty and offer the perfect solution. To fill the prevailing gap, CIRPs have been selected as one of the best choices available. This general study has committed itself into establishing the efficiency of such programs, making this review more significant in pinpointing the existing intellectual discrepancies on the study issue, more so in the line of law enforcement professionals. To honor its agenda, this chapter begins by providing a brief overview on the nature of CIRPs before moving ahead to examine relatable positive and negative attributes.
What are Critical Incident Response Programs?
In understanding better the overall nature of such programs, an analytical study carried out by OPTUM (2013) roots for terminology definition as the best way forward. The most significant term is critical incident, which as fundamentally outlined by OPTUM (2013) is used to highlight events that confer an actual or perceived threat to an employees well being or to their families. Another anonymous term is crisis. According to Blalock (2014), Jeffrey Mitchell defines the term crisis as an acute emotional reaction to a powerful stimulus or demand. A crisis can be characterized by when there is no definitive balance between thinking and emotions or when the normal coping mechanisms fail to function optimally. Within the work environment, the genesis of critical incidents associated with the welfare of employees can emanate from phenomena such as massive job cuts, work place violence, and employee death among other issues. The critical factors that graduate into serious psychological issues vary with line of duty (Bishop, McCullough, Thompson & Vasi, 2006). Figure 1 below explains better the source of operational stress that is highly associated to the predicament of the law enforcers.
Moving further ahead, Kane (2004) indicates that there are two types of critical incidents. These are department initiated and suspect initiated. According to Kane (2004), department initiated incidents are those started by the law enforcement agency while the latter honors its title by being aided by criminal. In department initiated crisis, Kane (2004) indicates that problems begin happening when the commanders become personally linked to the plan thus becoming inflexible or sometimes did not plan for the worst case scenario. As with the suspect initiated crisis, police officers usually have a hard time, especially the first responders given that criminals already have a fixed mind that the law enforcer is the enemy.
Figure 1: Sources of Operational Stress Applicable to Law Enforcers
Source: Amatruda (2010)
Putting this into consideration, Attridge and Vandepol (2010) go ahead to define CIRP as integrated comprehensive, multi-component, crisis intervention approaches for addressing the psychological consequences of critical incidents (p.133). Using the work of other researchers, these two scholars appreciate the fact that over the span of the last two and a half decades, much work leading to the development of CIRP has been carried out prompting its expansive use in most of the developed nations such as UK and US. Even though Attridge and Vandepol go ahead to acknowledge that a substantial amount of studies are still needed to make the required conclusive evidence, it is inevitable to shrug off the perceived efficiency of CIRP. Their study however, is based on the business outcomes, offering less contribution to the present study angle that digs deeper into the predicament of the law enforcers. Building on the same ideology, a study by Vandepol, Gist, Braveman, and Labardee (2006) indicates that an initiative such as the CIRP can be categorized under the large umbrella of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) which have been put in place by companies to cover for the welfare of employees. According to Burton, Gorter, and Paul (2009), putting the right initiatives in place by organizational leaders acts as the correct precursors that help workers to recover fast from relatable traumatic events. CIRP can be summed up as an effective strategy upheld by established organizations in the name of helping psychologically disturbed staff members.
Comprehensively using the work of Mitchell, Blalock (2014) successfully indicates that such programs have unique procedures that have to be followed for efficiency of the outcome to be maintained. Crisis intervention is basically an emotional first aid, which like the physical one, has to follow a well laid out plan for better results to be registered. Largely putting into perspective comprehensive research work, Blalock (2014) describes three major initiatives that define an effective crisis intervention. The first aspect to be considered is problem identification and the corrective measures taken thereafter. Within this particular move, Blalock (2014) indicates that an inventory of the situation is required before moving forward to determine the type of crisis. This is then followed by taking the correct action that will reassure the person in question. After calming down the situation, the caregiver must put into perspective that there is a need to contact community resources that can help the victim throughout the entire process. Events also need to be documented. In addition to these two factors, it is significant to maintain professional standards, for instance seeking further training opportunities to be able to handle a myriad of crisis that arise.
CIRP and Law Enforcement
This section of the literature review narrows down to CIRPs and their place within the law enforcement department. Just like categories of other employees, law enforcement officers are prone to stressful experiences that can graduate and develop into chronic psychological disorders. This particular aspect is well acknowledged by Malcolm, Seaton, Perera, Sheehan, and Van Hasselt (2005) who go ahead to list occurrences such as the September 11 attacks and relatable city bombings as some of the stress precursors. As such, Malcolm et al. (2005) concede the unique position upheld by CIRPs within the law enforcement program.
To expound further their analysis on the subject issue, Malcolm and his colleagues go ahead to describe the Mitchell model, which is basically the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) of small group crisis intervention developed by Jeffrey Mitchell. This model has its significant place within the law enforcement docket where Malcom et al. (2005) are able to acknowledge that further research is still required to outline the full effectiveness of the stated model. A subsequent study carried out by Young and Parr (2004) also acknowledges the place of critical incident stress management within the law enforcement given the stressful; nature of the professions. Making it a focus of their study, Young and Parr (2004) accept the fact that much consideration has to be upheld in making sure that police officers do not burn out mentally because of their daily experiences. Using the work of Brubaker (2002), Young and Parr (2004) point out that most officers are usually trained how to handle pending tactical maneuvers but less consideration is put on the aftermath. The inevitable psychological conditions that law enforcers face while on duty makes it necessary for CIRPs to be upheld.
This similar notion is also shared by Digliani (2012) in the development of a critical incident handbook for law enforcers. Within his comprehensive coverage, Digliani (2012) acknowledges various psychological aspects that have to be considered when reviewing the mental welfare of law enforcers. Certain psychological incidents make it necessary for CIRPs to be implemented within the law enforcement. Advancing further to the military segment given that these people are prone to experience the same predicament as police officers but on a more extreme mode, numerous studies have been able to discern the need of their response programs. In a coverage by Nash (2010), marine corps have in place continuum models that can be used to point out the needs of the combat men. While figure 2 below shows a stress continuum model that is widely used by the military individuals, Blalock (2014) indicates that such models are universally applicable to all crisis management initiatives. When dealing with the law enforcers who are at a high risk of mentally associated disorders just like the military men, such diagnostic models become relevant in determining the efficiency of the response programs (Corps, U. M. & Navy, U. S. 2010).
Figure 2: Combat Operational Stress Continuum Model
Source: Amatruda (2010)
Models of Critical Response Programs
In order to understand better the efficiency of the critical incident response programs, it is relevant to identify the prevailing models and point out how they function. This is an aspect that is well acknowledged by Dyregrov (1997). According to the scholar, it is inevitable to ignore the fact that critical incident stress debriefings have become a standard undertaking in most countries and cultures. However, one aspect that overshadows these processes is that they are applied differently by each culture and as explored by Dyregrov (1997) who exploits the process model differences as used in Europe and America, understanding the efficiency of such initiatives lies in pointing out application discrepancies as manifested by each culture or country. This section of the literature review honors the main agenda by scrutinizing various models of CIRPs as identified by various scholars.
According to Blalock (2014), there are four models of crisis intervention that perfectly fit the tag name CIRPs. There are four models that supposedly function optimally to achieve the function of the crisis intervention and they include the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), Crisis Incident Stress Management (CISM), Psychological First Aid (PFA), Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), and Stress First Aid (SFA). Within the CISM model, the term management is often interchanged with debriefing. According to Blalock (2014), these are some of the models that can be used to play the role of crisis intervention, especially within the law enforcement and military departments. However, this does not mean that they are the only agreed on models of crisis intervention. In world where an opinion difference is categorized as an intellectual progress, other scholars have different perspectives regarding the models of crisis intervention. For instance, Twiss and Kasperczyk (2009) divide the models into two, the traditional interventions and the other interventions. Under the traditional docket, the two scholars categorize Critical Incident Stress Debriefing as the sole model and within the category of other interventions; the models include psychological first aid, royal mail group study, and psycho-education. Besides these two scholars, Dyregrov (1997) concentrates on process debriefing, which is basically the CISD as insinuated by the two previous scholars and he goes ahead to describe the debriefing processes as they applied in Europe and America. This review discusses each model as presented...
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